By way of Engadget and the FCC, we learn there’s a next gen TiVo Mini in the works. And it’s a curious little beast. While there’s nary a reference to traditional WiFi frequencies, as requested by both RCN and myself, RF communication is present in the form of Zigbee – the up and coming home automation protocol. At this point, it’s unknown if this is intended to provide an existing partner like Control4 more hooks or signals TiVo is entering this space with aspirations that they or a cable partner control my new networked GE bulbs. But it sure is interesting… and possibly sheds some light on the TiVo Mini price drop, that expires in early January with this new hardware having a standard 6 month short term FCC confidentiality request in regards to photos and user manual. Having said that, CEDIA starts tomorrow and TiVo wasn’t shy about pre-announcing their $5,000 24TB DVR server slated for 2015. Stay tuned.
Best Buy and Weaknees have seemingly confirmed our earlier intel that the TiVo Mini would be subject to some sort of favorable pricing adjustment. Indeed, while the DVR extender jumps in price from $100 to $150, the TiVo service fee requirement is no more — effectively lowering the price of Mini by $100 and making a Roamio-based whole-home solution far more palatable. Further, this move clears the way for fee-free Roku and Amazon Fire TV clients. TiVo’s official page has the Mini out of stock until 9/9… which is probably about when we can expect some sort of official announcement. Who’s in?
As expected, Sonos is out with app and firmware updates this week that do away with the Bridge requirement. Now smaller scale Sonos deployments in homes with solid WiFi can more simply network their speakers without physically connecting hardware to one’s router. Having said that, Sonos does suggest that folks with a Bridge already in play leave well enough alone and take advantage of the existing mesh network (despite the clutter). Not to mention folks with more than three rooms or running 3.1/5.1 theater sound still require a Bridge intermediary. And, perhaps ironically, as the Bridge is decommissioned (for some), a higher powered replacement in the Boost is announced.
Available later this year for $99, the BOOST applies over a decade of learning about the varying needs of our customers and offers enterprise-grade wireless capabilities to serve even the most challenging home WiFi environments. Look for the BOOST’s official launch in the coming months.
Speaking of new fall hardware… we’re still wondering what the Sonos Playbase is all about.
Via an FCC filing, we learn more of TiVo’s intentions to further leverage hardware beyond their own set-top boxes:
Consumers today can purchase retail TiVo DVRs and ancillary devices that support iOS and Android products, as well as TVs (using the TiVo Mini), and that soon will support additional ancillary devices that are popular with consumers.
Back at CES TiVo displayed Roku renders while late Spring they demo-ed the TiVo experience on Amazon Fire TV… which were presented as “hypotheticals” for their cable company partners. Yet, given this new filing and impending MPEG4 transition, we’d say things are looking pretty bright for TiVo Roamio and Premiere owners.
Back in March, we learned Verizon was prepping a home automation-centric router. And, based on their FCC confidentiality request, it appeared they’d been targeting a summer release. While we’re not quite there, the unannounced Greenwave G1100 has popped up in one pal’s online account as the FiOS Quantum Gateway. Based on its presentation, we assume the G1100 replaces Verizon’s existing Actiontec hardware and handles both television and Internet duties… in addition to potentially bringing Zigbee home automation, via a HAN expansion port and as indicated by the emblazoned label previously submitted to the FCC. Of course, we don’t know if this is a simple extension of Verizon’s existing home suite… or some sort of new collaboration. Given home automation’s current retail struggles, acquiring this functionality via a provider like Verizon could very well remain the preferred sales channel.
It’s shaping up to be a splendid fall for TiVo (and us subscribers). As if a TiVo Mini fee adjustment, mega rack mountable DVR with hard drive RAID, and Android streaming weren’t enough, two highly desirable apps will be joining the party… perhaps as early as next month. Sources indicate, and seemingly corroborated by forum chatter, that Amazon Instant and Vudu are on the docket.
Amazon will finally be a “real” TiVo app with Prime access and extend beyond Premiere and Roamio units to also include Mini streaming. Of course, if the technical details play out as anticipated, what we gain in convenience we may lose in quality when migrating from the download to stream model. Then again, anyone who purchased a TiVo Roamio manufactured after January 1st, 2014 has had NO Amazon at all – just a box logo covered by a sticker. So the benefit will be even greater for a subset of subscribers, irrespective of video bitrate.
Further, TiVo will finally get into the Ultraviolet game with Vudu who’s been known for high quality movie streaming along with that UV digital locker. Not only do both of these apps generally add value to the TiVo platform, it ups the ante for those contemplating the new Roamio OTA targeted at cord cutters. Further, should Best Buy’s 500 store experiment pan out, we could envision a scenario where this model ends up at TiVo retailer Walmart… who happens to be the company behind Vudu (and exclusive distributor of the dead OTA Boxee Cloud DVR).
Although our initial impressions of the dual tuner Simple.TV was less than stellar, the company has been hard at work not only updating the little cord cutting, place shifting black box, but also launching new features. Recently, I had the chance to talk to Simple.TV CEO Mark Ely to discuss some of these changes.
First, from a software perspective, Simple.TV will be moving away from Silverlight as the default player outside of Safari on Mac. Currently, if you’re using IE, Chrome, or Firefox on a Windows computer, you are required to install Silverlight for video playback of your shows or live TV. Chromebooks are not supported at the moment. A move away from Silverlight and to a more compliant HTML5 video player will allow Simple.TV to expand their device playback on Windows, but also for Chromebooks. Continue Reading…